‘I Just Knew My Brothers Were There’

Fire Engineering news

A month after being pulled from a burning home, Buffalo (NY) Eric Whitehead reflected on the experience of being lost and burned on the fireground.

Whitehead sustained third-degree burns to his hands during the fire. He spoke with reporters from the Buffalo News about the close call and Mayday that landed him in the hospital.

On the night of January 10, Whitehead was the acting officer in charge when he and other members of Engine 21 responded to a house fire call. On arrival, Whitehead saw smoke pouring out of the second floor, but after making the second floor, they couldn’t see any smoke; instead it was coming from the attic.

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Phil Ryan, a retired Buffalo firefighter, spoke about the difficulty firefighters experience when battling attic fires. Egress is what makes attic fires so dangerous, Ryan told reporters, with there being only one way in and one way out.

Amid the confusion of the fire, Whitehead recalls being struck and losing his helmet and hoseline. He became disoriented and attempted to manage his air with breathing techniques he learned in training.

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Navigating Stairs with a Down Firefighter

“He got down in the prone position and tried to exercise shallow breathing to extend his air supply, and just stay there until help arrived, which it did it very quickly,” Fire Commissioner William Renaldo told reporters. Fellow firefighters found him after a few minutes and extracted him from the structure. He was transported to the hospital, where he hopes to make a full recovery.

Read the full account HERE.


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